What is Prediabetes?

Blood Sugar By the Numbers

There are three tests that healthcare providers use to determine if you have a prediabetic or early stage diabetic condition. Those three tests are the HbA1c test, the Fasting Blood Glucose test (FBG), and Oral Glucose Tolerance test (OGT).

Prediabetic condition Diabetic condition
HbA1c test Below 6.5% Greater than 6.5%
Fasting Blood Glucose test 100 to 126 mg/dl Greater than 126 mg/dl
Oral Glucose Tolerance test 140 to 200 mg/dl Greater than 200 mg/dl

What Does It Mean?

For most people with the prediabetic condition blood sugar levels gradually increase over several years. Prediabetes is a condition of higher than recommended blood sugar levels, but levels not high enough to be diagnosed as having type 2 diabetes. It is important to point out that not all people with the prediabetic condition will eventually become type 2 diabetics. You can take steps now to reduce your risk and improve your health if your blood glucose levels are diagnosed as being within the prediabetic range.

Recent and extensive research has shown that we should take the prediabetic condition very seriously, because long-term damage can be avoided if preventative action is taken at this time. Potential health issues like insulin dependent type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and circulatory damage often develop silently over several years, and the lifestyle threatening consequences of these diseases can be avoided with early diagnosis and preventive action when the prediabetic condition is first discovered.

About 90% of people with prediabetes and early stage type 2 diabetes experience insulin resistance. When people experience insulin resistance their muscle and fat cells do not respond as they should to insulin and glucose metabolism (turning the food we consume into simple blood sugars). For most people with the prediabetic condition the body does not properly metabolize all the food energy that is being consumed. Our body cells react to this over supply of food in our system by developing insulin resistance. Insulin is much like a key that “unlocks” a cell so that glucose can be absorbed into the cell and properly metabolize food into the energy our bodies need to function properly. When insulin resistance occurs the cells become increasingly less sensitive (more resistant) to insulin produced by the pancreas. If this condition continues over an extended period of time the pancreas starts to decrease insulin production. If preventative action is not taken early, this condition can eventually lead to insulin dependent type 2 diabetes and daily injections of insulin.

In the last two decades, medical researchers have found that increased oxidative stress is also prevalent within people with the prediabetic and diabetic conditions. Numerous studies have linked increased oxidative stress to insulin resistance1. Decreasing oxidative stress should be an important part of managing your blood sugar levels, because when individuals with elevated blood sugar levels reduce oxidative stress they experienced improved insulin sensitivity, as well as, improved natural insulin production 2.